Driven by growth in government, leisure, and professional jobs, unemployment in the Asheville metro area declined again in May, dropping from 8.6 percent to 8.2 percent, according to statistics from the state’s Employment Security Commission.
The Asheville metro area includes Buncombe, Henderson, Madison and Haywood counties. Unemployment also declined in Buncombe somewhat, dropping from 8.2 percent to 8 percent. Throughout the state, 86 counties saw declines in unemployment, though the numbers aren’t adjusted for seasonal changes in jobs. While the Asheville area faces less unemployment than most metro areas in the state (only Jacksonville and Durham-Chapel Hill have lower rates), the mountains as a whole are hard hit by the downturn. Haywood and Madison counties have 8.9 and 9 percent unemployment, respectively, while the nearby Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton area has the highest unemployment in the state, at 13 percent.
The area gained 800 government jobs, 600 in the leisure and hospitality sector and 400 in professional and business services. Health, education and construction also saw some minor gains. Other fields stayed flat, except for manufacturing, where 100 jobs were lost.
— David Forbes, senior reporter